We all want our kids to grow up to be compassionate, kind people. We all hope they become selfless adults with giving hearts. But the truth is, as parents, we have more influence on their philanthropic tendencies than we may think. Don’t be the “do as I say, not as I do” parent. Display the behavior you want your kids to mirror, especially with your money. What they see and hear from you as children can significantly impact their adult behavior—here are four ways to raise charitable children.
1: Let Them See You Give Your Money
If you make donations to a church or philanthropic organization, it’s important that your kids understand why. Sit down and explain why you support the organization, what they will do with the money, and why they need it more than you do. I still remember watching my dad write out a check to our church each Sunday before we headed out the door. Seeing family values reflected in an organization and seeing Mom and Dad financially supporting that organization will stick with your kids far beyond their childhood years.
2: Let Them See You Give Your Time
Time is a valuable commodity. My wife consistently gave her time at our daughter’s school events; the precedent of volunteerism in our family was set by her example. This example clearly had an impact, as they ended up joining a mother/daughter service organization together and loved every minute of it. Serving a non-profit isn’t the only way to give time though—offering small kindnesses to others is just as important. Allow your children to help out: ask for their assistance baking cookies for the new neighbors, bring them with you to Goodwill to donate old clothes, or encourage simple behaviors like writing thank-you notes. These small steps are more habit-forming than you might think, and will have enormous impact on your kids’ adult lives.
3: Plan Family Outings to Help Others
Many people simply don’t have the time to regularly volunteer. However, we all have a little bit of time to spare, and I encourage you to find a few spare hours to serve with your family. Holidays are the easiest times to get involved—many communities set up food services or gift drives for those less fortunate during the holiday seasons. For example, my family served Easter lunch to the homeless each year, which was a truly humbling experience. We would always discuss it afterward, evaluating why it was important and what we had learned. Finding a way to serve others in your community is a great bonding experience and a perfect hands-on learning experience for your kids.
4: Use a Giving Bank
The natural next step to talking to the kids about money is actually showing them how to donate. I gave my daughter a bank with three compartments: Give, Save, and Spend. She was given an allowance each week, and was told that a portion of it must go in each compartment. Then, when the Give compartment was full, she would empty it, bring it to church, and proudly place her earnings in the offering plate. Allowing your children to contribute to your family’s giving is so important, and a three-compartment bank provides a very tangible path to this lesson.
FINANCIAL ADVISER WARNING! Are you being ripped off? Call 281-907-5136 to hear the 5 Costly Misconceptions about Financial Planning. Byron W. Ellis, CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®, CRPC®, is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and Managing Director of United Capital Financial Advisers, LLC, a Financial Life Management firm. The information contained in this article is intended for information only is not a recommendation, and should not be considered investment advice. Please contact your financial adviser with questions about your specific needs and circumstances. The opinions expressed herein are those of Byron Ellis and not necessarily those of United Capital Financial Advisers, LLC.